BRUSSELS - Belarus has trained Afghan and Iraqi war veterans to carry out armed attacks on the Polish border, Pavel Latushka, Belarus' former ambassador to France and Poland and former culture minister, told EUobserver.
"The migration crisis is being used by [Belarus president Alexander] Lukashenko to insert into EU territory people who have [military] experience and who additionally undertook training on Belarusian territory to realize terrorist acts," Latushka said.
He spoke amid escalating clashes between migrants and Polish border guards, which caused international alarm on Monday.
"Next, Lukashenko will go for a local military conflict on the EU border, and in the meantime he will sell the picture to the world about a humanitarian crisis, the Europeans being to blame," Latushka, who fled to Warsaw after joining the pro-democracy movement in Belarus, said. "This is a form of Nazi-era propaganda," he said.
The Afghan and Iraqi veterans were handpicked and flown to Belarus between July and September, he noted. They were trained at a base near the village of Opsa, in north-west Belarus, belonging to 'Osam', the Special Active Measures Department of Belarus' State Border Committee, he added.
The training was carried out with the help of Belarus special forces from the 'Marjina Horka' brigade, which had fought in Afghanistan in the 1980s, and with advisers from Russia's 'GRU' military intelligence, Latushka added.
"Iraqi citizens were trained there [the Osam base], now they are training Afghans from the territory of Tajikistan, who have combat experience. Of course, it's not dozens of people being trained, it's units of individuals," he said.
"They're preparing clashes on the Belarus-EU border with the use of weapons," he added.
Latushka said his revelations came from "sources high-up in Belarusian intelligence services".
"I cannot give any names or documents regarding this, as people are at the highest risk - for passing on this information they would face the death penalty," he told EUobserver.
The Belarusian foreign ministry ignored questions.
But Polish authorities were aware of Latushka's allegations and have warned of potential armed clashes.
"We expect there could be an escalation of ... an armed nature any time soon on the Polish border," Polish government spokesman Piotr Mueller said on Monday.
Poland's EU ambassador also briefed his 26 EU peers on the situation in Brussels on Tuesday, in a two-hour long, behind-closed-doors meeting.
"The discussion covered operational details of a classified nature," an EU source with knowledge of the talks said.
Asked if diplomats discussed potential armed clashes, the source added: "So far, there were no incidents [of use of live ammunition]".
"But the situation is tense. Belarusian soldiers are trying to provoke Polish ones by approaching them, loading their weapons, and taking aim," the source added.
Other reports indicated guns were already being fired, however.
Polish soldiers said Belarusian ones fired in the air behind crowds on Monday.
Migrants' videos on Facebook on Tuesday showed Belarusian soldiers firing blank cartridges next to crowds in order to herd them away from a fence.
And Belarusian authorities accused Polish forces of firing warning shots the same day.